Review of When a Friend Needs a Friend

When a Friend Needs a Friend When a Friend Needs a Friend
by Roozeboos; illus. by the author
Primary    Scholastic    32 pp.
2/23    9781338813944    $18.99
e-book ed.  9781338831887    $11.99

A child tells a story about her friend Oskar, who loves to build things and visit construction sites but who also sometimes is sad and wants to be alone. The narrator finds Oskar’s behavior confusing (“Had I done something to upset him?”), but she seeks advice and solace from mutual friends and sends Oskar notes on paper airplanes, patiently waiting for his sadness to pass. The mixed-media illustrations are a moving blend of naive and expressive, capturing a child’s perspective with visible strokes of color and purposely askew collage elements. Recurring motifs lend a sense of harmony and support the emotional core of the story. Heart shapes appear on almost every page, reflecting the love that surrounds the narrator and Oskar. Arches curve up and down like smiles and frowns, reminding readers that emotions come and go. In a poignant double-page spread, four wordless panels represent Oskar’s sadness, with him building a treehouse in winter and staying there alone until summer, when he’s finally ready to play again. (His loyal dog never leaves his side, so Oskar’s never truly alone.) This thoughtful book is sure to spark conversations between child readers and sympathetic adults.

From the March/April 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Adrienne L. Pettinelli

Adrienne L. Pettinelli is the director of the Henrietta (NY) Public Library. She has served on several book award committees, including the 2015 Caldecott Committee, and is the author of Helping Homeschoolers in the Library (2008).

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